Another weekend, another Ontario adventure! Friday morning, John and I headed to Georgian Bay…. an area of Lake Huron about 65 km north of Muskoka. There are some similarities… same awful traffic, same beautiful “cottages” which really should be called estates. But Georgian Bay is more remote with the majority of houses built on islands; boat access only. I loved how desolate it felt and how vast the horizon was.
I felt removed from civilization albeit in a totally luxurious way. Kim Bozak and Phil Deck, our hosts, have created the most wonderful oasis with drop-dead views from absolutely everywhere including a very cool sauna they had custom designed to fit just perfectly into the space. They also spoiled us with great food, wine and conversation.
The secluded location of their cottage felt close to nature. Though I have to admit the only wildlife I saw was a small family of beavers who had made a house beside the boiler under the dock.
I’ve seen lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) but this was the first time I’d seen a beaver. They are incredibly cute! And oh so Canadian! Early explorers did not find the spices they were looking for… Canada was not the Orient they were seeking. But they did trade with the First Nations people bringing beaver pelts back to Europe. Suddenly beaver fur hats were all the rage and a gold rush of sorts was on! The fur trade was hugely profitable; beaver were hunted to near extinction.
But not before they became part of Canadian symbolism and history. The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded as a fur trading organization. CP Rail and Roots have a beaver on their logos. The Catholic Church in Quebec decreed beaver were actually four legged fish; people could eat them on Fridays. Supposedly they taste just like beef. Beavers appear on nickels, early postage stamps and were designated our national animal in 1975.
Urban myth tells that prostitutes in the 1800’s needed to shave their pubic hair to visually prove they were disease and lice free. However, their customers found this look unappealing so the women would wear a merkin, or pubic wig, made from the now affordable beaver fur. I couldn’t find any worthy corroboration for this tale but it might explain why beaver has become a slang term for a woman’s private area!??!
Phil is not thrilled to have beavers nesting under his dock. He may be relieved to learn that beavers, a lot like people, tend to build cottages only for the summer. They return to their permanent lodges every fall.